Updated: Monday, 01 Oct 2012, 11:24 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 30 Sep 2012, 11:50 PM EDT
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Forty-seven years officiating on the sideline...that's what Bill Etzler, from LaOtto, Ind., brought to the NFL.
"With all my years of experience going out on the field was just another football game," said Etzler.
Twenty-seven of those years were in Division I football, most recently the Big 10. When he isn't refereeing, Etzler is also the Vice President of Aqua Indiana.
Then came the NFL referee lockout. Etzler got a call from a friend in the NFL, he applied, and before he knew it, he was reffing on the big stage. During his stint with the NFL, he officiated as a linesman for the Tennessee Titans verse New England Patriots, New York Jets versus Pittsburgh Steelers, and Houston Texans versus Denver Broncos games.
"I knew it was going to end at some point, so yes there's disappointment, but the experience was wonderful," Etzler said.
Wednesday that end came when the league and the NFL Referees Association reached a new contract agreement that runs through 2019 which includes a salary increase from an average of $149,000 last year to $205,000 by the end of the agreement.
The contract compromise came after a controversial call during the Green Bay Packers versus Seattle Seahawks game Monday. Etzler said one bad call shouldn't be indicative of their short time in the NFL.
"If the official throws a flag for offensive pass interference everything that happened after that including all of the controversy about was it an interception or a catch is immaterial, and that was the only unfortunate thing was that they missed that foul," Etzler said.
However, people argue that was just the latest in a long list of calls that made many question the qualifications of the replacement refs.
"Replacement refs are horrible," said Montay McDowell, a freshman football player at St. Francis. "I mean they got high school refs and junior college refs refereeing in the NFL."
Etzler says the refs were qualified and well prepared and went through intense training.
And, a few people wonder what made this call different than any other disputed call made by regular referees.
"I feel like regular refs they make bad calls, but it's not a game deciding bad call," said Malek Stewart, a football fan.
Etzler was set to retire after this season and said he got to end his nearly 50 year career with a bang.
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